MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — As stars of the 2023 in-season Hard Knocks, the Miami Dolphins will have no better platform to tell their stories — weekly, via a glossy documentary.
The Dolphins have a ton of likable stars, led by Mike McDaniel and Tua Tagovailoa. And while many in the NFL only see the downside of appearing on Hard Knocks, there is a big upside: The Dolphins will have a chance to shape the narrative surrounding the team.
And while we don’t suggest they be untrue to themselves, allow us to give one small piece of advice:
You’re never going to convince large swaths of NFL fandom and media that you’re elite until you win a Super Bowl — and perhaps not even then. So might as well use their doubts as fuel and lean into the noise.
In other words, jump onto the top rope and play to the crowd as a wrestling heel.
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How Miami Dolphins Should Handle Hard Knocks
Certainly, they have the personalities to do it.
In the last couple of months alone, Tyreek Hill has called out Stephen A. Smith, and Tagovailoa has told a disrespectful Ryan Clark, “If we need to get scrappy, we can get scrappy.”
To that, we say:
It’s not just good for those who write and talk about the team. It can be good for the team, too.
Disrespect is a power motivator, and comments like those from Tyreek and Tua can have a galvanizing effect.
People love to be inspired and have a common opponent. On Sundays, that opponent is, well, the actual opponent. But Mondays through Saturdays, humans need an occasional push to remain focused.
Ex-players and pundits who throw around terms like “fraud” after a 5-2 start, while a similar standard is not in place for teams in identical situations, are just not acting in good faith.
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The Dolphins — in moderation, of course — should feel emboldened to clap back.
They already have a coach more than willing to articulate the silly way football is at times covered.
In the lead-up to Sunday’s game against the Eagles — a two-score Dolphins loss that has triggered all this “fraud” talk — McDaniel laid out the stakes:
“I told the team this on Saturday night: ‘OK, after the game, one of two things will occur. If we win the game, we are going to have to deal with a whole ton of hype and will be crowned as, it wouldn’t surprise me to be, the best team football, and that would be the carrying narrative. If we lose the game, we can’t beat good teams.’
“… Understand that literally either narrative matters nothing. Because we’re going to play this game — if we win it, I don’t want false sense of security. … Ultimately, as a football team, we’re trying to progress to the point that it doesn’t matter where we play or who we play, that you’re able to win those games. So we have to learn stuff from the game regardless of the outcome.
“So I know the narrative is going to be there, and it’s going to be there until we beat a team with a really good record. … Listen, you are your results, and until you prove otherwise, you’ve got to be willing to hear the consequences of the results.”
Not quite “It’s us against the world,” but it’s definitely a good start.
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